The first thing I did this morning, as I do every morning, was check my phone for breaking news. And like many of you, I saw the news and got that sick feeling… a feeling that we are all too familiar with.
A gunman opened fire at the Jason Aldean concert, firing into the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. At this moment there are at least 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
Concert goers at first thought it was fireworks near the end of the show.
The gunman had a fully automatic weapon. You’ve likely seen the videos taken by individuals and you can hear the pop, pop, pop of the dozens of shots. It sounds like a battlefield.
Police tracked down the gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, a resident of the Las Vegas area. Paddock shot and killed himself.
We don’t know much yet about the shooter, what his possible motivation was. We will learn more about that in the coming days, but we already know that this is the worst mass shooting in the history of this country.
Of course there can be no justification, no rationale for this unspeakable act of violence against innocent people. We’ll want answers, and we’ll get more information, but we will never be able to understand why because there can be no sane explanation.
We are also hearing stories, and we’ll hear more, about people who bravely helped those who were injured, in some cases loading the injured in their own vehicles and taking them to local hospitals that were quickly overwhelmed.
These kinds of attacks, of course, have specific victims, but they are really attacks on all of us. They are ruthless, random acts of violence against innocent people.
Since 9/11 and because of other mass attacks, security has been increased dramatically at these kinds of events, but we also know that there’s no defense against a nihilistic motivated shooter who wants only to harm others and have his name join the list of other perverse attackers.
It seems whatever we do to prevent attacks, those with evil intent appear to be one step ahead.